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Should the NHL bring back six divisions?

by Jeffrey Taviano
by Jeffrey Taviano

When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman realigned the conferences to allow teams to play the majority of their games in the same time zone, many teams lost traditional rivals, while others were put into questionable divisions.

Are fans accepting Tampa Bay, and Florida in the same division as Toronto, and Ottawa? None of the Atlantic teams fit as a natural rival with Tampa Bay or Florida.

There also seems to be a conference power imbalance.

In the East, playoff participants like Pittsburgh, Washington, New Jersey, Columbus, and Philadelphia have made the Metro a gauntlet, while the Atlantic has been top heavy with the likes of Tampa Bay, Boston, and Toronto.

In the West, the Central division sported the top two teams in the NHL, and saw six of seven members reach at least 92 points, while the Pacific noticed a huge drop off with their bottom four members.

Why not go back to three divisions? The league is no doubt more competitive, and more exciting in groups of five. Groups of five give teams a greater chance to win their division, and earn a playoff spot. This also gets local fan bases more excited as their team competes to win their division.

How the east should be

Look away Detroit fans! You might not like this, however, if the NHL breaks down these mighty divisions into geographical proximity this is what the NHL would look like.

Northeast

  • Montreal
  • Boston
  • Toronto
  • Ottawa
  • Buffalo

Mid-Atlantic

  • N.Y. Islanders
  • Pittsburgh
  • N.Y. Rangers
  • Philadelphia
  • New Jersey
  • Columbus

Southeast

  • Tampa Bay
  • Washington
  • Florida
  • Nashville
  • Carolina

Nashville would join the southeast igniting rivalries with Tampa Bay, Florida, and Washington. The alignment would also allow division rivals to meet more in the regular season, and strengthen their rivalries.

Where’s Detroit?

Under the current alignment, five of the six original NHL teams are loaded in the Eastern Conference. Moving Detroit back to the West would create more money games for the Western Conference while reigniting the old fires in Chicago and St. Louis.

Fixing the west

There is a lot of fun that can be done with the west. Canada can practically have its own division, and so can California, while keeping the traditional Central U.S rivals together. Why not make it happen?

Central

  • Detroit
  • St. Louis
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Colorado

Northwest

  • Winnipeg
  • Minnesota
  • Calgary
  • Vancouver
  • Edmonton

Southwest

  • Anaheim
  • San Jose
  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas
  • Arizona

With this format, the central rivalries are back together with the addition of Colorado, and Dallas.

The western Canadian powers are together with Minnesota being a short drive from Winnipeg.

California is united with three-teams, neighboring Arizona, and Las Vegas.

It would make more sense for the NHL to realign the conferences by the distance separating each city, and not by the time zone.

Detroit might be the odd team out, however, the excitement of playing the Blackhawks, and Blues six times a year can make up for that.

This article was originally published on @taviano1027